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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications , Published March 18 2011

Kristo discusses his frostbite: UND forward explains what happened night he was hospitalized

ST. PAUL – Downtown was filled on Thursday afternoon with people decked out in green, wearing shamrocks and lucky four-leaf clovers.

But the luckiest of all may have been the guy at the Saint Paul Hotel wearing a green track suit with the number 7 on the back.

Just six weeks ago, University of North Dakota sophomore forward Danny Kristo was a few blocks away from here at Regions Hospital with a doctor telling him that there’s a good chance his case of frostbite would result in the amputation of some toes.

It didn’t come to that, though, and the standout hockey player has recovered faster than expected. He has returned to practice and could play this weekend at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five in the Xcel Energy Center.

On the eve of the tournament, Kristo sat down with the Grand Forks Herald – a Forum Communications Co. newspaper – and talked about what happened on the night of Jan. 30, saying that he was woefully unprepared for the minus-33 degree wind chill temperatures of that evening, but assumptions that he was intoxicated are untrue.

“No alcohol was involved,” Kristo said. “I was not drunk. I know there are rumors going around about that. I did make some poor decisions that night, like not wearing socks and a pair of tennis shoes when it’s 30 below in Grand Forks. That’s not very smart. I did have some bad judgments on that night, but alcohol was not one of them.”

Kristo said he was home alone at his apartment, located across the street from the Alerus Center and behind Ray Richards Golf Course at about 9 p.m., when he decided to walk to a girl’s apartment located about seven-tenths of a mile away.

Kristo couldn’t drive because his car was at Ralph Engelstad Arena. He left it there the night before, opting to ride home with his roommates, Matt Frattin and Evan Trupp, when the team returned home from a road trip to Colorado College.

“We always carpool,” he said.

So, Kristo decided to take a shortcut across Ray Richards Golf Course to the girl’s apartment, which was located near the new Red Pepper location on 42nd Street. Kristo said he walked that path many times before.

This time, he wasn’t properly clothed for the cold temperatures. Kristo said he was wearing tennis shoes, no socks, sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt. He had a stocking hat on, but no gloves or mittens.

There was a significant amount of snow on the course, but Kristo said it was iced over and he could walk on top of it.

“As I was walking, I hit some powder,” Kristo said. “My right foot dug way in there. It was almost waist deep. My left foot was still on top of the snow. I pulled my foot up and my shoe was off. I pulled out my phone (for light) to scan the snow. I couldn’t find it. It was dark in the middle of the course. My foot started getting really cold and I was digging pretty hard with my hands and I couldn’t find it.

“I looked back at my apartment and I looked to the apartment I was going to. I was closer to the apartment I was going to. My foot and my hands were starting to lose feeling and I knew I had to get there pretty quick. So, I pretty much ran there with one shoe on.”

Kristo, who also sustained frostbite on the hand he used to dig in the snow, said his foot was white when he got to the apartment. He wrapped it up and called Frattin and Trupp to tell them what had happened. They immediately went to the girl’s apartment.

Kristo told his teammates that he didn’t have feeling in his foot and they decided to take him to the hospital. Frattin threw Kristo (whose foot was wrapped) on his shoulders and carried him to the car and got Kristo to Altru.

After undergoing a few tests, a doctor suggested that he go to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Doctors used medications, and a method called TPA, to try to open up clots and get blood flowing to his toes. Kristo wasn’t allowed to eat for 48 hours.

Kristo said he was on a lot of painkillers on the first few days and was out of it. After two days, doctors put dye in his foot to see if the process worked. They found that blood was flowing to all of his toes.

“I don’t know how and I don’t think the doctors know how, but I had flow to every toe,” Kristo said. “That was a really good day for myself and my family.”

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald